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David Keighley’s BBC Watch: A propaganda blitz from the man who hates Britain


Coming soon to a wall near you: a new black plaque, courtesy of the BBC – and with it an extension of their headlong mission to misinform and to distort British history out of all recognition.

Under production in what the 200-strong BBC press office calls ‘an ambitious new series’ are four programmes called A Black History of Britain, written by is the ‘acclaimed historian and broadcaster’ David Olusaga.

As part of this ‘fresh approach to history’, 20 black plaques will be unveiled, including one to John Blanke, who, it seems, was a trumpeter in the court of Henry VIII; since, then, according to internet sources, there had been a conspiracy to conceal his racial origins – until the BBC, mounted firmly on its white charger, enters the scene.

Of course black people have often been ignored and massively mis- and under-represented in the records. Olusaga’s impressive book on the 1880s German massacre of indigenous people in their South-West Africa colony (now Namibia) makes this very clear. His effort in linking this to the rise of social Darwinism – the underpinnings of the justification for Hitler’s Holocaust – is an important work.

But in the hands of the BBC, the quest for a better understanding of our history becomes something else: the series is already clearly framed as a right-on, full-blown crusade to substitute one distortion with another – and above all to undermine and re-fashion our national and cultural identity.

Clue number one is this link. The BBC has put the release about the series as a key part of its Diversity site; primary links are to its own lavish Diversity document and to a new cross-media initiative, the ‘Creativity Diversity Network’, the goal of which is to show that ‘diversity is vital for innovation’.

Clue number two is in the hyperbolic press release blurb:

‘Drawing on new genetic and genealogical research, original records, expert testimony and contemporary interviews, David will skilfully build a dazzlingly different national narrative…We will learn of the African soldiers who guarded Hadrian’s Wall in the third century, the black sailors who fought under Nelson at Trafalgar…

‘The series will sit alongside other programmes…whose shared theme will be to uncover lost, distorted or forgotten stories of Black Britons and the Black British experience. The range of bold and vibrant stories will cast fresh light on historical and contemporary Black British life,’

The Hadrian’s Wall reference sets the alarm bells well and truly clanging. The goal, as chronicled on TCW here, is for the BBC to re-cast the whole of British history – on the slenderest of foundations – to incorporate immigrants of different ethnicity as a fundamental and integral part of British development. Immigrants were vital to our existence from the Roman conquest, and that’s the new reality.

Chris McGovern has chronicled on TCW how The Blob has re- written British history so that pupils are taught more about Jack the Ripper than Disraeli or Gladstone, and so that Mary Seacole is revered whereas Florence Nightingale is reviled and her achievements deliberately underplayed. The BBC has been fully complicit in that, as this item on the schools section of their website about Mary Seacole illustrates.

Of course, the Olusaga’s programmes are not yet made, and there is always a danger in pre-judging. But impressive as he may be as a historian of colonial Africa, there are signs that his main activity is as a polemicist against those nasty Brits. Surprise, surprise, there’s immediately a Guardian connection here.

In a recent column dripping with contempt about British colonialism, he wrote:

‘The British empire, like every empire in history, was created to enrich the imperial mother country, not to realise some vague civilising mission… Yet we still, somehow, convince ourselves and expect others to believe that this nation set aside its own financial interests, ignored the desperate plight of the British poor and dispatched great fleets of ships and vast armies of soldiers and administrators across the oceans to attend to the material welfare, educational aspirations and future mass transport requirements of the indigenous peoples of Asia and Africa.’

This uncompromising negative judgment makes abundantly clear the real agenda of the BBC in commissioning the series. They have allied themselves with a man whose hostility to Britain is a main driving force. Not content with their propaganda on climate change, on immigration and the EU, here is prima facie evidence that the BBC are extending their efforts to what amounts to a major project to re-engineer British history.

Is this – above all – so that it fits their rhetoric that immigration is good for the UK and was always part of our history?  And even, maybe, that membership of the EU is vital for the nation to continue in that vein?

During the referendum, News-watch is monitoring almost all of the BBC’s news output for pro-EU bias. If you spot any examples, you can register them at a special website:

News-watch research is at

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David Keighley
David Keighley
Former BBC news producer, BBC PR executive and head of corporate relations for TV-am. Director of News-watch.

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